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The Avengers do Black Friday in webcomic by Sairobee

avengers-bf

Black Friday has come and gone, and whether you were one of those who waited in line or simply scoffed at those who did, you’ll surely get a kick out of this great one-off comic strip by a storyboard artist known online as Sairobee. In this one-page strip, titlted “Happy Belated Black Friday, Y’All!”, the Los Angeles-based artist depicts an engaging and imaginative scenario: What if the Avengers went to Black Friday?

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Ben Oliver’s Avengers: Earth’s Most Adorable Li’l Heroes

littlethor-cropped

I’m a sucker for pint-sized versions of superheroes, ranging from Skottie Young’s “baby” Marvel variants  to Dustin Nguyen’s Li’l Gotham to Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans, but my new favorite may be Ben Oliver‘s adorable “little” take on the big-screen Avengers.

When ROBOT 6 contributor Tim O’Shea spotted some of the illustrations on Cully Hamner’s Facebook page, he contacted Oliver, who was kind enough to send them our way. In his email, Oliver said this is the set “so far,” which I hope means we’ll be treated to child-sized renditions of Loki, Hawkeye and Agent Coulson.

The art is, of course, terrific (don’t dwell too long on the idea of kids with facial hair; that way lies madness), but it’s Oliver’s perfect and hilarious word balloons that will win over even the most stonehearted superhero fan.

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Comics A.M. | Jeff Smith on CBLDF; Archie’s ‘hardcore horror book’

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith

Creators | Jeff Smith, who was named last week to the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, talks briefly about the importance of the organization, and the 2010 challenge to his all-ages graphic novel Bone in a Minnesota school. [Comic Riffs]

Comics | Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have a few things to say about the new zombie series Afterlife With Archie. “We are taking a series of characters known to be lighthearted and young adult-oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” says Francavilla, who’s also the creator of The Black Beetle. “Fortunately, I am really good at making things dark and ominous.” [The Associated Press]

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Comics A.M. | Viz Media expanding into India; the Avengers at 50

Naruto, Vol. 62

Naruto, Vol. 62

Publishing | Viz Media, the largest U.S. publisher of English-language manga, is poised to jump in to a new market: India. Kevin Hamric, the company’s director of publishing and marketing, was there this week, and he says the demand is there. “With India’s growing book and reading sector we have identified it as key to our growth,” Hamric says. “We receive many, many requests each and every month from fans in India to bring our product here.” [The Hindu Business Line]

Comics | As the Avengers turn 50, Noel Murray recounts their history and explains why they work so well as a super-team. [Hero Complex]

Conventions | The founder of this month’s incredibly successful Salt Lake Comic Con — it drew about 70,000 attendees in its first year — is planning a spinoff event for Jan. 9-11, the weekend before the Sundance Film Festival. [Salt Lake Tribune]

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Avengers face their greatest threat in ‘Endless Wartime’ trailer

avengers-endless-wartime

Marvel has released a trailer for Avengers: Endless Wartime, the upcoming original graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Mike McKone.

Announced in June, the hardcover is set within current continuity, as a mysterious threat arises in the nation of Slorinia with ties to the pasts of Captain America and Thor. Avengers: Endless Wartime arrives in October.

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Appeals court upholds Marvel victory in Kirby copyright feud

kirby marvel charactersThe Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed Marvel a significant victory this morning, upholding a 2011 ruling that Jack Kirby’s contributions to the publisher in the 1960s were work for hire, and therefore not subject to copyright reclamation by the artist’s heirs.

However, as Tom Spurgeon first reported, the appellate court vacated the New York district judge’s summary ruling against two of Kirby’s children, California residents Lisa and Neal, on jurisdictional grounds; the judgment against Susan and Barbara stands.

Secondarily, the Second Circuit upheld the lower court’s exclusion of expert testimony offered by John Morrow and Mark Evanier on behalf of the Kirby heirs, agreeing that “their reports are by and large undergirded by hearsay statements, made by freelance artists in both formal and informal settings, concerning Marvel’s general practices towards its artists during the relevant time period.”

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Batman tops YouTube’s list of most popular superheroes

Adam West In 'Batman'

Despite competition from cinematic upstarts like Iron Man, Wolverine and Captain America, Batman reigns as the most popular superhero on YouTube, with more than 3 billion views of a staggering 71,000 hours of video. But the character at No. 2 may surprise fans, and undoubtedly please Marvel Studios. Verily.

That’s according to research released today by the video-sharing website as part of its “Geek Week” celebration. The breakdown is based on keyword searches since 2008 for everything from film trailers to fan originals to video-game play.

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Artist unknowingly creates sculpture out of comics worth $30,000

Andrew Vickers, left, and Steve Eyre, with "Paperboy"

Andrew Vickers, left, and Steve Eyre, with “Paperboy”

When Andrew Vickers discovered some old comics in a dumpster, he did what any artist would do — OK, maybe not any artist — and transformed them into a man-sized (and -shaped) papier maché sculpture. And then he learned those comic books could have been worth nearly $30,000. The operative phrase there is could have been.

The sculpture, called “Paperboy,” on display through Thursday in Sheffield, England, includes the first issue of The Avengers, which on its own might’ve been worth as much as $15,000 on its own. Y’know, before it was torn apart and pasted to a chicken-wire frame (granted, the comic probably wasn’t in mint condition in the trash).

World of Superheroes owner Steve Eyre initially thought the sculpture was “fantastic,” and then he recognized the cover of 1963’s The Avengers #1 on “Paperboy’s” inside-right leg.

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SDCC ’13 | Marvel announces Comic-Con-exclusive merchandise

avengers poster-skottie young

Marvel has announced a line-up of merchandise for Comic-Con International that includes a Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. T-shirt, a Rocket Raccoon mug and, perhaps most adorably of all, Skottie Young’s Avengers movie poster (part of the Phase 1 Marvel Cinematic Universe Blu-Ray Collector’s Set) and glass tumbler.

The limited-edition pieces will be available at the Marvel booth (#2329) at the San Diego Convention Center. See the list, with images, below:

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The Fifth Color | Janet Van Dyne, the first Avenger

Tales_to_Astonish_Vol_1_44Tales to Astonish #44 hit newsstands, and our hearts, in June 1963. The cover promised us a cool, green space monster and the debut of a new character: “Meet the flying Wasp!,” we’re told and, hey, there she is flying across the front of the book in a triumphant fashion. While she may be Ant-Man’s new “partner-in-peril,” she doesn’t look too imperiled as she carries what looks like a swooning Hank Pym out of the creature’s grasp.

The Wasp rarely is the swooning, damsel in distress: She’s gone through some peril to be sure, from her personal life to her costumed adventuring career, but this woman doesn’t shirk her responsibilities or morals to cower or retire. Technically, she’s been an Avenger since the team’s inception and remains unique in the field of superheroics: while most heroes have greatness thrust upon them or fight to survive, Janet Van Dyne actively chose this life. She’s accepted herself enough to be public about being a “costumed adventurer” and is rich enough to make it her primary occupation with little to no angst about how she got to where she is today. Becoming the Wasp was a way for her to avenge her father’s death, and that may have inspired the name for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

This month is the 50th anniversary of the winsome Wasp and, while most think of her in small terms, her impact on the Marvel Universe is gigantic.

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Phil Coulson returns early in fan-made ‘Die Hard’ pin-up

coulson-mcclane

We’re still waiting on find out how Phil Coulson came back from that fatal impalement in The Avengers movie to star in the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series, but hisseemingly inability to die is being played up by an up-and-coming indie artist.

Samir Barrett has put the Coulson character side by side with Die Hard‘s John McClane in a fully rendered pin-up that should get your fanboy (or fangirl) heart pumping:

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Joe Quesada learns you don’t mess with Agent Coulson

quesada-gregg

Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada tweeted the above photo of himself taking a punch to the jaw from Phil Coulson himself, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Phil Coulson, writing, “Reminder to self, don’t touch Lola … ever again!”

That’s a reference to a scene from the first trailer for the upcoming ABC action drama in which Coulson cautions a member of the Helicarrier hangar deck crew, “Don’t touch Lola,” his shiny red convertible.

Created by Joss Whedon with Dollhouse veterans Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  also stars Ming-Na as Agent Melina May, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Gemma Simmons, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward and Chloe Bennett as Skye. The series will air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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Comics-based movies: Breaking ‘the book was better’ rule

iron-man-poster-2

“Demon in a Bottle” will probably be better since well, you know…

Are you getting excited? New teasers and trailers are being released almost every day now. The countdown to Summer Movie Season is officially on, and the big blockbusters adapting comics are looking promising. Iron Man 3 has an armada of armors flying around; can’t really go wrong there. The Wolverine has ninjas as far as the eye can see. And the bearded and brooding Man of Steel might even end up being good. Throw in a little Kick-Ass 2 and RED 2, sprinkle with R.I.P.D. and 300: Rise of an Empire, and top it off with 2 Guns, and you’ve got yourself one fun summer.

While we still get clunkers, the ratio of good to suck has definitely improved. It used to be that the old chestnut response to a movie adapted from a novel could be more often than not applied to movies adapted from comics: The book was better. And it’s often still true. But there are times when the movies do it better than comics, and while that’s great for the filmmakers and audiences, in a way it’s an indictment on the comics-makers.

Comics offer more boundless creativity than almost any medium. With comics, there’s no studio executive, no creation-by-committee made up of shareholders and board members with less experience creating and telling stories than their companies’ interns. It’s why Tony Stark being an alcoholic doesn’t fly with Disney and was removed from Iron Man 3. Comics can still include collaboration and compromise but they can just as easily be the result of a single voice. Even with the most heavy-handed editorially mandated comics, they’re still created by a fraction of people needed to make a Hollywood movie. Comics are generally more spontaneous, imaginative and clever than most major studio movies. But sometimes, Hollywood gets the jump on comics.

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200,000 more passionate customers or 20 million casual ones?

guardians of the galaxy1

March’s best-selling comic book

Is the goal for comics to become a mainstream form of entertainment an unattainable goal? That seemed to be the angle Tom Spurgeon took on Monday’s Deconstructing Comics podcast and in his additional commentary at The Comics Reporter. He feels the industry is better served by regaining a few hundred thousand more devoted readers to restore unit sales to mid-six-figure levels. While comics have shown there is longevity in niche markets, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of also attaining a larger readership.

With March’s estimated direct market sales figures showing yet another double-digit month of growth, manga publishers giving anecdotal reports of the manga market stabilizing, and something of a convention boom going on, there’s no better time than now to re-examine how comics can secure a healthy and vibrant future. Taking advantage of this growth is tricky because, as Spurgeon mentions, no one is exactly sure why the turnaround happened. Although people complain about DC Comics’ New 52 being a mess and Marvel crossovers not having the punch of the Civil War days, overall sales are rebounding. Was it digital comics? Was it the mainstream press for the New 52 or Marvel NOW, or some other stunt? Is it the Hollywood movies?

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What if corporate-owned heroes had corporate sponsors?

sponsored heroes3

Booster Gold was introduced in 1986 as a glory-seeking time traveler eager to sign endorsement deals, and in his appearance on The CW’s Smallville wore a costume emblazoned with corporate logos, similar to a NASCAR racing suit. But what if other superheroes followed in Booster’s footsteps?

In his series “Sponsored Heroes,” Roberto Vergati Santos envisions costumed heroes from comics and films if they were getting some sweet, sweet sponsorship money from the likes of Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola (although why a cosmic entity like Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, would need corporate cash is beyond me).

Some of the results a much better than others. You can see a sampling below, or view the entire series at Behance.

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